Hodgkin-Huxley Equation

This tutorial shows how to programmatically construct a Catalyst ReactionSystem that is coupled to a constraint ODE, corresponding to the Hodgkin–Huxley model for an excitable cell. The Hodgkin–Huxley model is a mathematical model that describes how action potentials in neurons are initiated and propagated. It is a continuous-time dynamical system given by a coupled system of nonlinear differential equations that model the electrical characteristics of excitable cells such as neurons and muscle cells.

We begin by importing some necessary packages.

using ModelingToolkit, Catalyst, NonlinearSolve
using DifferentialEquations, Symbolics
using Plots

We'll build a simple Hodgkin-Huxley model for a single neuron, with the voltage, V(t), included as a constraint ODE. We first specify the transition rates for three gating variables, $m(t)$, $n(t)$ and $h(t)$.

$$$s' \xleftrightarrow[\beta_s(V(t))]{\alpha_s(V(t))} s, \quad s \in \{m,n,h\}$$$

Here each gating variable is used in determining the fraction of active (i.e. open) or inactive ($m' = 1 - m$, $n' = 1 -n$, $h' = 1 - h$) sodium ($m$ and $h$) and potassium ($n$) channels.

The transition rate functions, which depend on the voltage, $V(t)$, are given by

function αₘ(V)
theta = (V + 45) / 10
ifelse(theta == 0.0, 1.0, theta/(1 - exp(-theta)))
end
βₘ(V) = 4*exp(-(V + 70)/18)

αₕ(V) = .07 * exp(-(V + 70)/20)
βₕ(V) = 1/(1 + exp(-(V + 40)/10))

function αₙ(V)
theta = (V + 60) / 10
ifelse(theta == 0.0, .1, .1*theta / (1 - exp(-theta)))
end
βₙ(V) = .125 * exp(-(V + 70)/80)

We now declare the symbolic variable, V(t), that will represent the transmembrane potential

@variables t V(t)

and a ReactionSystem that models the opening and closing of receptors

hhrn = @reaction_network hhmodel begin
(αₙ($V), βₙ($V)), n′ <--> n
(αₘ($V), βₘ($V)), m′ <--> m
(αₕ($V), βₕ($V)), h′ <--> h
end

Next we create a ModelingToolkit.ODESystem to store the equation for dV/dt

@parameters C=1.0 ḡNa=120.0 ḡK=36.0 ḡL=.3 ENa=45.0 EK=-82.0 EL=-59.0 I₀=0.0
I = I₀ * sin(2*pi*t/30)^2

# get the gating variables to use in the equation for dV/dt
@unpack m,n,h = hhrn

Dₜ = Differential(t)
eqs = [Dₜ(V) ~ -1/C * (ḡK*n^4*(V-EK) + ḡNa*m^3*h*(V-ENa) + ḡL*(V-EL)) + I/C]
@named voltageode = ODESystem(eqs, t)

Notice, we included an applied current, I, that we will use to perturb the system and create action potentials. For now we turn this off by setting its amplitude, I₀, to zero.

Finally, we add this ODE into the reaction model as

@named hhmodel = extend(voltageode, hhrn)

hhmodel is now a ReactionSystem that is coupled to an internal constraint ODE for $dV/dt$. Let's now solve to steady-state, as we can then use these resting values as an initial condition before applying a current to create an action potential.

tspan = (0.0, 50.0)
u₀ = [:V => -70, :m => 0.0, :h => 0.0, :n => 0.0,
:m′ => 1.0, :n′ => 1.0, :h′ => 1.0]
oprob = ODEProblem(hhmodel, u₀, tspan)
hhsssol = solve(oprob, Rosenbrock23())
nothing # hide

From the artificial initial condition we specified, the solution approaches the physiological steady-state via firing one action potential:

plot(hhsssol, idxs = V)

We now save this steady-state to use as the initial condition for simulating how a resting neuron responds to an applied current.

u_ss = hhsssol.u[end]
nothing # hide

Finally, starting from this resting state let's solve the system when the amplitude of the stimulus is non-zero and see if we get action potentials

tspan = (0.0, 50.0)
@unpack I₀ = hhmodel
oprob = ODEProblem(hhmodel, u_ss, tspan, [I₀ => 10.0])
sol = solve(oprob)
plot(sol, vars = V, legend = :outerright)

We observe three action potentials due to the steady applied current.